A MEMORIAL service to celebrate Cyrille Regis at Coventry Cathedral has been confirmed for Sunday, March 4, following this newspaper’s call for one, we can exclusively reveal.
It will take place the day after the ‘Legend’s Day’ special celebration of Cyrille at the Ricoh Arena, for Coventry City’s home game with Lincoln City.
We revealed last week that the Regis family, the Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, and Coventry City Football Club had all been in discussions, and in contact with us, since our Editor’s Comment a fortnight ago. It was entitled, ‘Let’s Celebrate Cyrille Regis at Coventry Cathedral.’
A cathedral spokesperson told us tonight: “There will be a celebration of Cyrille Regis, his life and legacy, at Coventry Cathedral on Sunday March 4, at 4pm.”
More details will follow.
It is expected to feature the footballing giant’s family and friends, and famous names in football including Cyrille’s former team-mates from Coventry City’s celebrated 1987 FA Cup-winning team.
It is anticipated the service will be of national interest. It follows a national outpouring of love and respect for the ‘pioneering’ England striker who addressed racism with dignity on and off the pitch.
The confirmation follows a private funeral last Tuesday and memorial service at West Bromwich Albion, the club where Cyrille Regis sprang to fame.
Both the cathedral and Cyrille’s widow, Julia Regis, had responded to us a fortnight ago to say they would be “deeply honoured”.
Julia Regis told us two weeks ago: “We have been so moved by the love that has been shown to Cyrille and his family by Coventry fans, the club and people from the city. It has really helped us through this sorrowful time.
“Cyrille loved Coventry and we are greatly honoured by the call to hold a memorial at the city’s cathedral, which has always been a symbol of God’s love, peace and reconciliation.
“We would be very happy to explore the idea with the club and the church at a future date.”
Our Editor’s Comment stated: “There could be no more suitable place for the city of Coventry to celebrate the life of Cyrille Regis than the cathedral, should his family agree.
“Coventry Cathedral, Sir Basil Spence’s glorious post-war symbol of unity and renewal, peace and reconciliation, embodies what Cyrille stood for and symbolised.
“Big Cyrille campaigned to kick racism out of football and is widely respected as a pioneer for other black footballers and people. He handled racism hurled at him with quiet but determined dignity.
“As with Jimmy Hill, whose memorial service was held at the cathedral, former England centre-forward Cyrille was seemingly universally admired citywide and nationwide, and not just for being one of English football’s all-time greats. A memorial service takes place at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
“His story went into every Coventry home as an iconic member of the black and white 1987 Sky Blues FA cup winning side.
“1987 remains indelibly etched in the city’s popular consciousness. Its significance in the city’s 1000-year story is passed through generations.
“And as a Belgrade Theatre play ‘We Love You City’ once had it, that wonderful cup-winning side represented racial unity following tensions amid Coventry’s post-industrial decline.”
We also wrote: “Coventry people would clearly welcome something major to celebrate Cyrille in our city, should the family be willing.
“He is surely one of the most iconic figures in Coventry’s history and people feel he is one of our own.
“He played at Coventry for seven years during the club’s best years, the same number as for West Bromwich Albion.
“He was actively involved in the Kick It Out campaign against racism in football after his career.
“He was also a Christian, who would speak of his faith. Coventry fans used to sing on the Highfield Road terraces: “And now you’re gonna believe us, Cyrille’s born again!.”
One minute’s applause was twice held in honour of Big Cyrille at last month’s home match versus Swindon Town, following his untimely death on January 14, aged 59.
“There’s only one Cyrille Regis” was sang during the Sky Blues’ cup victory at MK Dons on January 27, watched by nearly 8,000 fans of Coventry City.